Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Asbury United Methodist Church
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
"...watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen...
to your children
and to their children
and to their children
Stories of slavery and freedom, struggle, and achievement are woven throughout the history of this African American congregation. It was founded in 1836 by African American parishioners of Foundry Methodist Episcopal Church seeking a church of their own. By the time of the Civil War, Asbury was the preeminent black church in the city. Its membership of 600 made it the largest of the 11 African American congregations. Today Asbury counts among its members descendants of the enslaved Washingtonians who famously attempted a dramatic escape to freedom in 1848 aboard the sailing ship Pearl.
Churches were centers of community life for African Americans, who had made up more than one-quarter of the city's population since Congress arrived in 1800. By 1830 a majority had gained their freedom. Despite "Black Codes" that severely restricted their movements
Asbury United Methodist Church is the oldest black congregation in the District of Columbia that remains on its original site. The current sanctuary dates from 1915. Since its founding, Asbury's members have played leading roles in the life of the city, and its spiritual, educational, and humanitarian activities have contributed to efforts of black congregations throughout Washington, D.C., to attain equality for the city's many African American communities.
Worship services, above, engage young members with their own Children's Message. The sculpture at left by Erik Blome honors Asbury Church members. Mary Jane and Emily Catherine Edmonson and their brave attempts to escape from slavery in 1848. It was installed in 2010 on Duke St. in Alexandria, Va.
Rev. Matthew Wesley Clair, Sr., left, pastor from 1902 to 1919, became one of the first two African Americans elected bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Rev. Robert Moten Williams, right, increased Asbury's membership from 1,800 to 4,700 during his tenure (1931-1955).
Acclaimed African American photographer Addison Scurlock captured the Asbury congregation on its front steps
The modern church is politically active, including demanding Civil Rights during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
[Caption on reverse of marker:]
Members of the Asbury congregation pose for noted African American photographer Addison Scurlock in 1931.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.3.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.145′ N, 77° 1.633′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of K Street Northwest (U.S. 29) and 11th Street Northwest, on the left when traveling west on K Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 926 11th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20005, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Messer Building (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Alexander Graham Bell (about 600 feet away); Franklin Square (about 600 feet away); Morrison-Clark Inn (about 700 feet away); The Leonard "Bud" Doggett House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes (approx. 0.2 miles away); For the Working People Central Public Library (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker replaces the linked marker.
Also see . . .
1. Asbury United Methodist Church (Washington, D.C.). Wikipedia article (Submitted on December 15, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
2. Pearl incident. Wikipedia article (Submitted on December 15, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Churches & Religion • Civil Rights • Education • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels • Women •
More. Search the internet for Asbury United Methodist Church.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 15, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 15, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 42 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 15, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.